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Have you ever found yourself wondering how do the professionals (pros) consistently turn out amazing photos day after day, year after year and what are some of their secrets? So besides knowing their camera like their best friend, what are some of the things that the pros do? Here are some tried and true landscape photography tips used by the pros.
Experimenting is one of the best ways to shake yourself up out of the doldrums and yes even pros use it to get their creative juices flowing.
Try photographing something totally outside your comfort zone or even a different subcategory within your preferred genre. If landscape photography is your thing, you are probably already a master of the golden hours (sunrise and sunset). So experimentation can start with shooting a nightscape or even a long exposure in the middle of the day.
Note: I would highly advise against experimenting at someone’s wedding!
How about introducing a human element into your landscape and allowing them to be a part of the story? Experimenting keeps you on the learning path and when you learn, you grow as a photographer. It is about challenging yourself to do something different and pushing your boundaries.
Many places on your photography list have already been captured hundreds of times. That thought can make you throw your hands up in the air and decide you may as well just recreate it. Before you think of recreating, try to showcase it differently. What else can you do? Is there another foreground element you can add or take away? One of the things that make pro’s work stand out from the rest, is their perspective and ability to make a place seem like you are seeing it for the first time.
While it’s not always easy to create something unique and new, your originality is one of the things that will set you apart. Can you get a different angle, add or detract an element when composing, or shoot it differently (e.g. with light trails or multiple exposures)? How about getting off the trail and the popular view areas and charting your own course to find another perspective?
There is no problem in finding inspiration in someone else’s work. But keep in mind that you want your work to stand out, as your own.
Someone said that “being a good photographer does not necessarily translate into being a good storyteller.” Being able to evoke the emotions of your audience should always be a goal, though. Keep in mind that the purpose of your photo story is to interest, instruct, or amuse your audience.
Decide how you want the image to affect them and then how to achieve that goal. Is your story going to be in black and white or infrared? Is it going to be realistic or abstract? Pros use different styles of photography to keep producing interesting stories consistently.
In landscape photography, being more selective with the views you present tells a more effective story, so pros understand the power of good composition (a vast topic all on its own). One of the rules of good composition is that your image should contain just enough detail. In landscape photography you do not have the luxury of physically moving things around, so you must arrange the elements of an image by changing your position. This also helps with finding the most flattering view, or one that tells a different story.
Choosing the important elements in your photo to highlight helps you decide what to include in the frame and what to leave out. Make your subject dominate by accentuating it with one or few related elements, remembering to declutter as much as you can. As a general rule, if an element in your image doesn’t enhance the subject, it may be detracting from it.
Ideally, you want to get the shot right in-camera and eliminate or minimize your post-processing. With so many features and settings on DSLRs now, it is possible to produce the image you want. If this does not materialize, then you need the ability to do basic adjustments. These include changes to color and contrast, exposure adjustments, straightening, and cropping.
Check out these dPS articles for tips on processing:
Pros know the importance of post-processing. That is one of the main reasons they shoot in RAW to capture all the uncompressed image data, which leads to higher quality images in the end.
Post-processing can also add that unique element of you. Decide if the shot you took is what you wanted to achieve or you can choose to adjust elements until you get the image you want to present. Digital photography has made it easier to post-process than the dark rooms of yesteryear but it also makes it easier to go overboard easily. So determine your vision for the final image and learn to execute it properly so you produce an image that represents you.
These are just a few of the things to keep in the back of your mind when you are creating images. Staying consistent means staying creative or constantly challenging yourself to try something different or learn something new.
When you get to your location, think about how you can make the image your own. There is nothing more amazing than producing a piece that someone can identify as yours even before they confirm you did it. Share with us how else you stay consistent when shooting and any other landscape photography tips you have learned.